Missio Alliance Essential Reading List
The cross means more than we've let it mean.
Proclaiming the gospel and forming the faithful: these are the most practiced disciplines of the evangelical church. As central as these disciplines are, however, they are only part of the story. And as Christian Community Development Association CEO Noel Castellanos has learned over a lifetime of ministry and mission, the neglect of the gospel's full implications for the world has contributed to the erosion of communities and the languishing of poor and other marginalized people.
In Where the Cross Meets the Street Castellanos shows the strengths and limitations of a narrowly focused church and broadens our imaginations to embrace a gospel that proclaims Christ and forms disciples. This life-giving gospel also demonstrates compassion, confronts injustice and restores individuals and communities to wholeness. This is the whole work of the cross; this is the privilege of those who follow the Word made flesh.
"[Through our] relationship with Noel, we have grown tremendously in our understanding of others living in the margins of our society. Noel helped us to move from a black/white association toward a more full expression of the American experience of Asian, Native American, Latinos and being more inclusive towards the great diversity we have in America. His voice has been a tremendous asset to CCDA, the body of Christ and God's kingdom. . . . We are sure that you will learn much and be encouraged to live out your faith in new and different ways by reading this book."
"Part memoir. Part Bible study (in the best sense). Part training guide in community development. Part invitation to revolution. Noel Castellanos is one of the most influential leaders in the country guiding one of the most beautiful movements in the world, CCDA. I am honored to call him a friend and teacher . . . and many of us have been waiting for this book a long time."
"Where the Cross Meets the Street is a truly inspiring testimony to all that God can do in our lives, our barrios and our country. Noel Castellanos has provided us with a rich resource for ministry—particularly for those of us who motivate and guide young leaders, who seek to encourage and empower impoverished communities and who hope for a church that is faithful to the incarnate Lord by practicing misión integral (holistic mission). It's also a wonderfully fun and easy read. I couldn't put it down."
"Noel Castellanos not only preaches and teaches on a holistic ministry of evangelism and community development, he embodies it. Noel's story, told through this timely and significant book, will encourage and challenge Christians everywhere to engage in the ministry of the hope of the cross lived out in the street. Through his life story, his ministry, his leadership of CCDA and now through this text, Noel Castellanos offers the possibility of a vibrant Christian faith not contained by the walls of a church building."
"Noel is a leader of the times and a champion of the practitioner. This book takes twenty-five plus years of experience and gives us lessons and testimony to how CCDA brings the cross alive and makes it relevant today."
"The book reads like a modern day gospel story—it is very personal, intimate, engaging, challenging and through real stories of life presents the affirming and transformative power of Christian witness. It reads like a good novel, but it is profound theology at its best!"
"If you're tired of a disengaged Christianity, Where the Cross Meets the Street is the book for you. More than a book, it's an invitation to a journey of transformation and maturity. Noel, in sharing his own journey with us, calls us to a gritty and incarnational faith that forces us to see Christ in unexpected places. I found myself saying, 'Amen!' out loud. Every generation of Christians needs genuine street prophets—in Noel we have one."
"As someone who has ministered among the urban poor for the last fifteen years, this is the book I wish I had in my hands when I started. Noel Castellanos is an elite urban theologian, practitioner and dear friend to those on the margins. I have learned so much from Noel these past ten years and am thrilled he has accomplished the mighty task of putting his insight and experience into writing. My prayer is that this book will become incarnate in you as you incarnate the grace, truth and future of Jesus to those you serve."
"Any Christian leader in any city in the United States can draw biblical foundations and practical interventions from Noel's timely book. His story encapsulates the recent histories of the Christian Community Development movement and the diversification of leadership in evangelical America. This book is a must read for any leader plotting the engagement of the church in our culture over the next decade."
"Where the Cross Meets the Street reads like a novel. I couldn't put it down. With candor, humility and humor, Noel invites his readers to accompany him on his personal journey from obscure poverty to national prominence. The book is both emotionally touching and prophetically convicting. Inspiring."
"Where the Cross Meets the Street is a critical tool in the development of ministries as well as in educating our next generation of Christian leaders. It will forever challenge us to be incarnation in the streets of this country, as well as those streets in which we may be called to serve abroad."
"Where the Cross Meets the Street deserves a wide readership for a number of reasons. . . . Castellanos' invitation to engage wholeheartedly in incarnational ministry, his holistic ministry model, and his personal example should stir and equip all who read this book. In the end, this book validates Elizondo's claim that 'it is consistently in the frontier regions of human belonging that God begins the new creation. Established centers seek stability; frontier regions can risk to be pioneers.'"
"Some people have trouble relating to God. Many, like Castellanos used to, may feel as if God doesn't have time and doesn't care about them because He doesn't like them. Throughout this book, Castellanos shares stories of his life and ministry. While most of his experiences with Christians during his early years were with white people, he had to come to the realization that God loves more than just white people. The good news is it is often the overlooked and the rejected that hold a special place in the Savior's heart. But, as the Bible says, those people will never hear without a preacher. In order to make a difference for Christ, believers must be willing to get involved with people and truly be interested in their lives where they are. Christians must expand their reach by going to 'undesirable' places. Castellanos encourages readers to reach out to those on the margins of society."
"The book, part memoir, is a fascinating read. Throughout, Noel shares his own story, using it to emphasize how and why he became involved in community development. . . . I greatly appreciated Noel's willingness to share his heritage and story throughout this book, along with the joys and challenges Mexican immigrants face. . . . As a youth pastor and Christian committed to Jesus and social justice, I have no doubt that Where the Cross Meets the Street is a book I will refer to and recommend often."
"In his candid description of both the rewards and failures he's experienced, Castellanos shows us why God's love for those at the margins—a love demonstrated on the cross—should be the center of every Christian's life."
"This book is a good introduction to a life and culture that is not easy to understand. I recommend this book to ministry leaders and urban community developers. It is a door to an interesting journey of the Latina/o experience in the urban context and for that it is valuable in its own right."
"I recommend this book for anyone seeking to do neighborhood ministry and who cares about justice. I love that Castellanos is so attentive to his neighbors and what Jesus is up to in the neighborhood. In a world where issues of systemic injustice, racial tension and poverty can seem overwhelming it is inspiring to read such a hopeful account."
Foreword by John Perkins and Wayne Gordon
Introduction: Mumbo Jumbo
1. Mi Familia
2. Leaving the Barrio
3. A New Burden for the Barrio
4. Becoming an Evangelico
6. Proclamation and Formation
7. Demonstration of Compassion
8. Restoration and Development
9. Confrontation of Injustice
10. Sí, Se Puede
Conclusion: Seek the Peace and Welfare of the City
Appendix 1. A Snapshot of CCDA
Appendix 2. Lessons from the Book of Nehemiah